Managing Notifications and Alerts on Your iPhone and iPad

There are many different ways that apps can notify you on your iPad and iPhone, but it isn’t always easy figuring out how to manage those notifications. In iOS 7, notifications are managed in the settings app. Most notifications are stored in the notification center, but they can also be shown in the lock screen, and you can be notified by a pop-up alert, a sound, or a banner. The wonderful thing is that iOS 7 gives you complete control of your notifications.

The first thing to understand is the Notification Center Settings. This is where you control all aspects of your notifications. You access these settings by going into the Settings app, and tapping on Notification Center. There is no way to disable Notification Center when your device is unlocked, but you can disable the ability to see Notification center on your lock screen. Notification Center itself is a pull down screen you access from swiping down from the top of the taskbar on the iPhone or iPad.

The Notification Center settings control what you see in this swipe down screen, but also all other ways that apps notify you on the iPhone and iPad. By default, when you install any new app, it is included in the notification center. You can tell if an app is included by looking to see whether it is in the “Include” or “Do Not Include” section of the settings panel. If it is in “Include” the app’s notifications will appear in the Notification Center.

To control an individual app, and the way it notifies you, tap on the name of the app you want to control. Within these settings, you can remove the app from the Notification Center by swiping the selector next to “Show In Notification Center”. In addition to deciding whether to show in the Notification Center, you can choose whether to show 1, 5, 10, or 20 Recent Items. Disabling in Notification Center does not remove all alerts from the app, it only removes the alerts from showing in Notification Center.

Within the individual app settings in Notification Center, you also select how you want to be notified of individual alerts (again, this is independent of whether the apps show in Notification Center). You can select None if you do not want to be interrupted by a notification from an app (but it will still show in Notification Center if you haven’t disabled the Show in Notification Center alert). You can also select to have a Banner notification (which just briefly displays on the top of your screen) or an Alert (which pops up on your screen and must be acted on to be dismissed from your screen). This is also where you decide if you want a sound played when the app alerts you (just swipe next to Sounds to enable or disable the audible alert), and whether to Badge the App Icon (place a number in the upper right corner of the app icon showing how many alerts the app has sent since you last accessed it).

Examples of Banner notification and pop-up Alert notification:

The final option that you have is whether notifications are shown on the lock screen. For example many attorneys would not want to show email in the lock screen. If you do not want an app to be able to notify you when your device is locked, disable the Show in Lock Screen setting by swiping it so it no longer has green next to it. Be aware that even if you have Show in Lock Screen disabled, there would still be an audible alert if you have sounds enabled.

Lock Screen Alert

Although these are the basic settings that you see for all apps, some apps, like Mail, FaceTime, and Messages do have additional options. For example, Messages and FaceTime allow you to choose the sound used to alert you. Mail allows you to set different alert options for any email account you have setup, and also to choose different options for VIP messages. Messages also allows you to only be alerted for contacts, to show previews of your messages, and whether to repeat alerts.

I hope this helps with better understanding the types of alerts that you can receive on your iPad and iPhone and how to manage the alerts that you receive. Although iOS 8 will make some changes to the Notification Center, most of the settings discussed will remain the same in the next version of the iPhone and iPad software.



Tip for Organizing Your iPad or iPhone Apps

Joe Caiati has a great tip on his blog,, explaining how to get the majority of your apps organized in alphabetical order. I was recently having a conversation with a colleague on this exact issue and was expressing my disappointment that Apple has not introduced a new UI for organizing apps. This isn’t quite what I would suggest, but it is an alternative for individuals that want an easy way to organize apps on their iPad or iPhone in mostly alphabetical order. It basically resets your home screen layout, then arranges all non-natives apps automatically. (The problem is that after you install any new apps, they just get added to your last page, out of order)

My Solution: Use Folders and Search

iPad Home ScreenAnyone that has seen my iPhone or iPad knows that I am obsessed with folders. Instead of using Joe’s tip, I basically organize all apps into folders based on labels that make sense to me. After I have all my apps in folders, I use Spotlight Search to find apps that I cannot easily locate.

Spotlight Search on iPadIn iOS 7, you access Spotlight search by dragging your finger down on any of your home screens (the screens with the grid of apps), and then a search field will appear from the top. The important thing is that you begin to drag your finger on a spot on the screen below the taskbar, or else you will access the navigation center. I usually just drag from the middle of the screen down.

Once the search box is on your screen, you can begin typing the name of any app, and if your apps are enabled for search, the app will appear in the list. Once the app is showing in the spotlight search results, you can simply click on the app in the results to launch it (it also gives you a hint on the right side of the results on the folder that the application is stored in, so you may not have to search next time).

Spotlight Search Results on iPad

If your apps on not showing when you do a Spotlight Search, check your settings to make sure that you have applications selected for search results. Launch the Settings App on your iPhone or iPad, then go into the General Settings, then Spotlight Search. Make sure that a check mark is next to Applications.

Search Setting on an iPad running iOS 7

Since I usually use search to launch applications, I also have Applications selected to appear on the top of my results. The results show based on the order they are listed in the Spotlight Search settings. To move a category higher in the search results, use your finger and hold it down over the hamburger symbol (the three horizontal lines on the right side of the screen next to the category name), and move the category up or down the list.

Neither of these methods are ideal, but based on the current user interface of the iPhone and iPad, this is the best that we have. I am hoping that future editions of iOS provide users with more freedom of organizing apps. It would be much more convenient if there was a launcher with all the apps automatically added to it, with the option to organize by name, by last used, by date installed, or by most used. It would also be nice if you had this same option in any folder you created. For now, if you want to have this type of freedom, you would have to switch to an Android device. But in the meantime, I hope these tips make navigating your device easier.


Apple’s iOS Activation Lock is Helping Reduce Cell Phone Theft

Enable Find My iPad in Settings

iMore has an article indicating that theft of iPhones has drastically declined thanks to the activation lock feature that was introduced in iOS. Activation Lock is a feature of “Find My iPhone” that requires that your iTunes username and password be used when trying to erase a device or reactivating a device. Apple prompts you to enable “Find My iPhone” during the initial setup. After being enabled, a device cannot be erased or re-activated without the iTunes username and password being entered.

This feature works on any device that iOS 7 can be installed on. That includes all models of the iPhone and iPad currently being sold. To determine if you have this feature enabled, check settings, iCloud, and make sure Find My iPad is enabled. For more information see Apple’s support page.

Use Emoji on Your iPad or iPhone

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Place this link strictly in the “for fun” (or effectively communicating with the youth) category. Apple Insider has an article explaining how to enable an Emoji keyboard on iOS devices. If you don’t know what Emoji are, consider yourself lucky, but so you feel more hip, they are the “cute” little smiley faces and other pictures that you see in text messages and email.

If you enable the Emoji keyboard, just remember that use the globe icon on the keyboard to switch keyboards, and that once you are in the Emoji keyboard, there are several categories of Emoji available, each with several different screens of “cute” smiley faces or pictures (just swipe left or right on the keyboard to get to the additional screens).

iPhone Reset Options Explained

2014-05-09 11.29.40Have you ever looked at the reset menu on your iPhone, and thought, “what does it all mean!!!!!”. If so, Redmond Pie has an excellent article that explains what all the reset options do in iOS 7. The Reset options are located in the Settings App, General Settings, then Reset.

Most of the time these setting will just be used before you are switching devices, but if you are running into weird problems on your iPhone or iPad, some of the reset options may help solve your problem without doing a full “Erase All Content and Settings”. Head over to Redmond Pie for a full description of each option.

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